KATHMANDU, Jan 24: Tourism entrepreneurs have said that investigation on the procurement of wide-body aircraft is damaging the image of Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) in the international market.
A meeting held in Kathmandu Wednesday at the office of Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN), tourism entrepreneurs warned the government not to damage the NAC’s future in the name of investigation of the procurement process.
On January 7, parliament’s Public Accounts Committee had recommended the government to take action against incumbent and former tourism ministers as well as secretaries along with the managing director of NAC for financial embezzlement on wide-body procurement process.
Besides, the government has also formed a probe commission to investigate into this issue. Side by side with these entities, parliament’s International Relations Committee is also investigating the wide-body procurement process along with the business plan of NAC.
Meanwhile, the entrepreneurs have said that prolonging investigation on purchase of aircraft is ruining the image of the national flag carrier. They have urged the government to sort out the issue as soon as possible so that the NAC could focus on its corporate plans.
“The corruption part, if any, should be legally sorted out immediately. Prolonging the process of investigation is affecting our national flag carrier that is giving a wrong message to the world,” said Navaraj Dahal, president of TAAN.
He further said that the major concern of all tourism entrepreneurs was smooth operation of the new aircraft so that they could bring tourists into Nepal.
“We should focus on utilizing the wide-body aircraft, and add more such aircraft to the NAC’s fleet,” he said. “While the NAC is on the course of growth, there should not be any ploy to hamper its efforts.”
“Nepal government banks on tourism as a huge contributor to the country’s economic prosperity,” he added. “But such kind of investigation affects the aviation sector, which also affects the entire tourism industry.”
Meanwhile, Santa Bir Lama, president of Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA), argued that some people with vested interest have been trying to damage the NAC since very long and the wide-body scam was just one of such ploys.
“Agents of international airlines are trying to wipe out the NAC from the industry,” Lama said. “We should take a joint initiation to save the NAC’s credibility in the international market for the sake of the country’s tourism sector.”
He further said that two outstanding officials – tourism minister Rabindra Adhikari and tourism secretary Krishna Prasad Devkota – have been intentionally dragged into controversy to damage the growth of tourism.
Likewise, C N Pandey, president of Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents (NATTA) has also claimed that wide-body scam has been deliberately raised in order to burn off the business of NAC.
“Wide body scam is being raised immensely aiming to close NAC’s business and to boost up international airlines’ business in Nepal,” he said, adding that such activity was obstructing the growth of NAC.
Amar Man Shakya, president of Hotel Association Nepal, said that the scam was a ploy to make Visit Nepal Year 2020 ineffective. “Till date the country’s tourism industry is dependent on international airlines. When our own national flag carrier was trying to grow, this controversy has been raised out of nowhere,” Shakya said, adding that government should sort out this issue as soon as possible for the sake of tourism industry.